2016 Mazda MX-5 Preview – The Best Halloween Treat of the Season

By Steve Laser

Mazda knows how to throw a party. On the day before Halloween, Motor Press Guild members gathered at Mazda R&D in Irvine, Calif., for a party filled with some extra-special treats for car journalists and their guests.

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Dubbed the ’80s “MX-ER” (short for Mixer), we were asked to wear our favorite ’80s fashions or a treasured ’80s band t-shirt. A DJ was on hand to spin tunes from that era. The theme segued with the 25th Anniversary of the original MX-5 Miata, introduced in 1989.

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The best treat, of course, was an opportunity to get a closer look at the all-new 2016 Mazda MX-5. Also on hand were pristine examples of the first three generations, along with some special racing models and design spin-offs.

Yet the biggest thrill of the evening was a design walk-around presentation of the 2016 MX-5 by Derek Jenkins, Mazda’s Director of Design. Jenkins was introduced by MPG President, Joni Gray, who thanked Mazda for hosting the group.

Jenkins said that the first generation MX-5 was introduced the same year that he was accepted to the Art Center College of Design to “…at least try to become a car designer.” He read stories in car magazines about Tom Matano, Bob Hall and Mazda and the story behind the first Miata’s design.

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He said that toady’s team creating the fourth-generation car had to stay true to the concept of the original, yet they also had to design a contemporary car. They couldn’t disappoint the traditional enthusiast, but they also had to bring new customers to the car.

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If the design was too radical, he said, the tradition, or the DNA of the car would be lost. Yet if they did something too retro or old-fashioned, it would likely fail to fascinate new customers and threaten the long-term existence of the car.

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In his walkaround, Jenkins covered the key areas of the new design:

  • The silhouette is an improvement on the classic roadster, with the cabin pulled a little farther back while the driver sits lower in the car.
  • Front styling gains an “attitude adjustment” making it more contemporary – it’s lower and more confident than the previous generations.
  • Above all else, the new MX-5 has more road presence, it looks more “planted” to the road.
  • The side view is clean with subtle sculpting to enhance the dynamic proportions and add strength to the body.
  • The rear fenders are more pronounced, highlighting the fact that it’s rear-wheel drive. The tapered rear end is a departure from previous generations to help it stand out on the road.
  • His team spoke to owners and enthusiasts who said they wanted a more sophisticated interior, yet not too complicated. Nicer materials and trim make the new MX-5 feel like a higher value.

Jenkins stressed that the new MX-5’s design is a global effort, and that’s where the “magic happened, bringing the best ideas together on this car.” He closed by saying the new MX-5 represents “Mazda in the best possible way” – building cars that are fun to drive.

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While we’ll have to wait for another opportunity to experience “The Joy of Driving” the all-new MX-5, we saw nothing but smiles on the crowd of automotive journalists, analysts, PR wags and guests who shared the spirit of the season.

Story, photos and video ©2014 CarNichiWa

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